Winter has, really and truly, set into Bangalore now. It is quite chilly throughout the day, especially so in the nights. With the cold comes body aches, sore throats, cough and cold, and a general lethargy. 🙂 The recipe I am about to share with you today – Thippili Rasam or Long Pepper Rasam – is something that will help you combat all these ills of the winter season.
The roots of the Piper Longum plant are called Kandathippili (Tamil), Pippali Mool (Hindi) or Long Pepper Root (English). The fruits that the plant bears are called Arisi Thippili (Tamil), Rice Pepper or Long Pepper (English), or Pippali (Hindi). Both the root and the fruits are believed to have medicinal effects – they aid in improving digestion and appetite, alleviate cough and cold, tiredness and general aches and pains, trouble sleeping and feverishness. They even help combat depression and aid in the regulation of the menstrual cycle. Indian Long Pepper contains a substance called Piperine, which helps fight certain parasites, which is how this works. Our ancestors sure knew their stuff, eh?
Thippili Rasam or Long Pepper Rasam is what you could term ‘a lost recipe of India’. It was quite a commonly prepared recipe in Tamilian households once upon a time, especially in the months of winter. This rasam also used to be offered to breastfeeding ladies, to help the uterus return to its normal size after childbirth. Over time, though, these traditional recipes have, kind of, lost their value. Fewer and fewer households even make this rasam now, fewer people know the exact recipe.
I was able to dig up our family recipe for this Thippili Rasam, with Amma‘s help, and am about to share with you the way it has always been made in our family, over the generations. I have used both the root and the fruits of the Long Pepper plant in this rasam, along with some regular black peppercorns and other spices. It makes for a delicious, albeit slightly spicy, treat. I made it recently and, trust me, it helped a whole lot with the cough and cold I had been grappling with for quite some time!
Let’s now check out the recipe for Thippili Rasam aka Long Pepper Rasam, shall we?
Ingredients (serves 3-4):
- 1/4 cup toor daal
- 1 medium-sized tomato
- A small lemon-sized ball of tamarind
- Salt to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1/2 tablespoon jaggery powder or to taste
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander
For the spice mix:
- 1 teaspoon oil
- 4-5 small kandathippili sticks aka long pepper root or pippali mool (the stick-like thing in the picture above)
- 1 teaspoon milagu aka black peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon dhania aka coriander seeds
- 5-6 pieces of arisi thippili aka long pepper, rice pepper or pippali (the long, black things in the picture above)
- 1 teaspoon jeeragam aka cumin
- 3 dry red chillies
- 6-7 fresh karuvepalai aka curry leaves
For the tempering:
- 1/2 tablespoon ghee
- 1 teaspoon kadugu aka mustard seeds
- 2 pinches of perungayam aka asafoetida
- Wash the toor daal under running water, a couple of times. Drain out all the excess water. Add in just enough fresh water to cover the toor daal. Pressure cook on high flame for about 5 whistles, or till the daal is well cooked. Let the pressure release naturally.
- When the pressure has gone down completely, get the cooked toor daal out. Mash well, using a masher. Keep aside.
- Soak the tamarind in a little hot water for at least 10 minutes, to make it soft. Keep aside. When it is cool enough to handle, extract a thick paste out of it, adding a little more water if necessary. Keep aside.
- Chop the tomatoes finely. Keep aside.
- Now, we will prepare the spice mix for the Thippili Rasam. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a pan. Add in the long pepper, black peppercorns, dry red chillies, coriander seeds, long pepper root, cumin and curry leaves. Fry on medium flame for 1-2 minutes or till the ingredients begin to emit a lovely fragrance. Ensure that the ingredients do not burn. Transfer the fried ingredients to a plate, and let them cool down fully.
- When the fried ingredients for the spice mix have entirely cooled down, grind to a powder in a mixer. Keep aside.
- Now, we will begin to prepare the Thippili Rasam. Take the chopped tomatoes in a pan, along with a little water. Add in a little salt and turmeric. Cook for 1-2 minutes, or till the tomatoes turn mushy.
- At this stage, add the tamarind paste to the pan, along with the cooked toor daal and about 1-1/2 cups of water. Mix well. Cook on high flame for 1-2 minutes more, or till the raw smell of the tamarind goes away.
- Add the spice mix we prepared earlier to the pan, along with jaggery powder. Mix well. Taste and adjust salt if needed. Cook on medium flame for a minute and switch off gas.
- Now, prepare the tempering for the Thippili Rasam. Heat the ghee in another pan. Add the mustard seeds to it, and let them sputter. Add the asafoetida and let it stay in for a couple of seconds. Switch off the flame, and pour this tempering into the rasam.
- Mix in the finely chopped coriander. That’s it – your Long Pepper Rasam is ready! Serve it hot with piping hot rice and a bit of ghee.
- In terms of dry red chillies, I used a mix of Salem Gundu chillies (the small, fat, round ones that are quite spicy) and Bydagi (the long, shrivelled ones that aren’t too spicy). You can use any variety of dried red chillies that you prefer.
- A few pods of garlic can also be fried along with the other ingredients for the spice mix, ground, and added to the rasam. Here, I have skipped the garlic.
- The jaggery powder can be avoided, if you so prefer. Our family recipe does not include it – I add it just because I like a little sweetness in my rasam. Also, I think it combats the spiciness from the peppers really nicely.
- Make sure the toor daal is well cooked. Mash it well before using in the Thippili Rasam.
- Adjust the quantity of dry red chillies, long pepper, long pepper root and black peppercorns you use, depending upon the spice level you prefer. The above quantities yield a medium-spicy rasam.
- The spice mix for this rasam can even be made with just long pepper + long pepper root + black peppercorns, skipping all the other ingredients. These are the three star ingredients, which must absolutely not be missed. Both versions taste equally good.
- Use country (nati) tomatoes, for best results.
- Oil can be used in the tempering, instead of ghee, too.
- Long pepper (arisi thippili or pippali) and long pepper root (kandathippili or pippali mool) can be a bit tough to find in metros. They are easily available in Tamilnadu, though, in most ‘naatu marundhu‘ (herbal remedies) stores. I usually pick up my stock of these ingredients when I am visiting Madras. These two ingredients are also available online, on Amazon.
- Long pepper, long pepper root and black pepper aid in combating winter ailments such as digestive issues, body aches, cold and cough. This Thippili Rasam also offers the same health benefits, as per our ancestors. However, while this rasam is a winter warmer, a lovely addition to your food in the months of winter, it can be considered as a ‘herbal remedy’ and not as a legit medicine per se. Please treat it accordingly. Do consult a doctor, if your symptoms continue to persist.
- The long pepper, long pepper root and black peppercorns used in this rasam are believed to generate heat in the body. Hence, it is advisable to consume this Thippili Rasam only occasionally and not regularly. It is also not advisable to consume this rasam during pregnancy, for the very same reason.
- Long pepper (arisi thippili) creates a tingling sensation on the tongue and in the throat while consuming. Do be prepared for this while making this rasam. Alternatively, you may skip using the long pepper entirely – the other ingredients for the spice mix remain the same. Many Tamilnadu families prepare this rasam sans the long pepper, too.
- Do not cook the rasam for a long time after adding the spice mix. Make sure the rasam is cooked only on medium flame, for a minute or so, after the addition of the spice powder. Otherwise, there are chances of the rasam turning slightly bitter.
This post is for the Healthy Wellthy Cuisines Facebook group that I am part of. The members of this group cook for a particular theme every fortnight. This fortnight, all of us are cooking winter-special delicacies.
Check out what the other participants prepared for the theme:
Jaggery Rasgullas by Geetanjali| Raw Turmeric Curry by Ruchi| Palak Tambli by Jayashree| Methi Pokode Kadhi by Rosy| Moong & Celery Leaves Soup by Mayuri| Jaggery Flatbread by Shalu| Sukhdi by Vanitha| Leftover Pongal Vadai by Seema